Hoosier Dusty Files - May 04, 1871 - First Professional Baseball League - National Association - First Game Fort Wayne
|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
What many sports historians consider the first professional baseball league held its first game in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 4, 1871.
National Association of Professional Base Ball Players
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players had organized in New York on March 17, 1871. The new league featured nine teams: Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cleveland Forest Cities, Fort Wayne Kekiongas (Indiana), New York Mutuals, Philadelphia Athletics, Rockford Forest Cities (Illinois), Troy Unions (New York) and Washington Olympics. Though there had been professional baseball teams, the Cincinnati Red Stockings as the first, before, the National Association was the first organized league of professional teams.
The league actually functioned as a loose confederation of teams. The league did not have central leadership structure. Teams could make their own schedules and play against teams of their own choosing. The only organizational structure was an annual meeting of the teams. The teams could belong to the league as long as they paid the dues and played a minimum number of games against other teams in the league. The loose structure created situations for teams to exploit. The league, though, saw some financial success. However, the loose structure led to problems that many teams felt could not be solved. The problems led some of the teams to withdraw and form their own league with stricter rules. This league, the National League, included six teams from the old National Association: Boston Red Stockings, Philadelphia Athletics, Hartford Dark Blues, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, and New York Mutuals. The Cincinnati Red Stockings and Louisville Grays completed the roster of new National League teams that made its debut in 1876.
The First Game
The first game at Fort Wayne featured the Fort Wayne Kekiongas against the Cleveland Forest Cities. The Kekiongas beat Cleveland 2-1.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning